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Port: Sadly, public figures receiving crude messages isn't exactly news

I hate that Cara Mund has been abused in this way, but it's not a problem specific to her, nor does the news help voters decide who would best represent them in Congress.

Mund
Cara Mund meets with residents as she collects signatures Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in West Acres Mall, Fargo, to be placed on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives as an independent.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — This week our Robin Huebner published a story about the crude messages candidates in North Dakota's U.S. House race have received.

The genesis of the story was a video candidate Cara Mund — ostensibly an independent but effectively the de facto Democratic-NPL candidate in the race — posted rounding up some of the ugliness her campaign has inspired from the hoi polloi.

It breaks my heart that Mund has received those messages. It's also heartbreaking that Congressman Kelly Armstrong, the Republican incumbent in the race, has reported receiving insults and death threats.

This brings me to my point: These threats and insults aren't exactly news, and I worry that by focusing on them, by allowing the politicians to direct our focus to them, we're letting our debates be guided by online trolls and not the issues.

I'm sympathetic to those receiving abuse, because I'm a compassionate human being, first and foremost, and because I receive so much of it myself.

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Not that long ago white supremacists directed serious threats , complete with very personal information, at myself and my daughter. It prompted us to take security precautions at our home.

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While I was covering the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, it was a rare day that went by that I wasn't threatened. In one memorable incident, a man threatened to strip me nude and force me to straddle a barbed-wire fence so he could drag me back and forth.

I've been accused of animal cruelty because we once lost the family dog .

I've been told, by a man who is now a children's author in Minnesota, that I'm probably too fat to have sexual intercourse with my wife.

I carry some of this stuff around with me. I'm sure Mund and Armstrong do, too. How could you not? It shouldn't happen, but it does happen.

For candidates it's also beside the point.

If you run for elected office, you're going to be abused.

That's always been the case. During the presidential election of 1800, John Adams was called “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman" by a surrogate for Thomas Jefferson.

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It's gotten worse in the modern era thanks to the internet giving a platform to every yokel with two brain cells to rub together.

But this stuff cannot be a distraction.

The U.S. House race should be about ideas and issues. Mund, specifically, chose to enter this race late, and she's spent most of her time being evasive about her positions and political ideology ( she told the Associated Press that political labels are name-calling, too).

Voting has commenced in our state, and we still know very little about one of the candidates asking us to give her control of our lone seat in the House of Representatives.

I hate that Mund has been abused in this way, but it's not a problem specific to her, nor does the news help voters decide who would best represent them in Congress.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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